Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Life begins once everything is washed away, and suddenly all is possible": Ava Lehrer on Ashbery's translation of Rimbaud

STONECUTTER's very own "poet-rebel" Ava Lehrer reviews John Ashbery's new translation of ILLUMINATIONS by Rimbaud for THE FASTER TIMES.

"Rimbaud breathed life into French language and poetry with the publication of Illuminations in 1886... The neologisms, juxtapositions, torrents of images, and novel play with rhythm and rhyme in these prose poems, exploded the language with great force. Illuminations is full of captivating images and themes: real and imagined pulsating cities, glimpses of bizarre characters on the streets and in dreams, the theater of humanity and the role of the performer—all of this intertwined with Rimbaud’s reflections and contemplations...In new ways his poetry inhabited that mystifying brink between active, visible reality and imaginative expanse. Ashbery, too, stands at this non-space or “threshold,” as Rimbaud scholar Roger Little calls it, in much of his own poetry. And there are other similarities: sinuous lists of rushing images; keen attention to a poem’s visual aspects; and undercutting of “significant” moments with sudden and seemingly unrelated lines. These are characteristics of the Illuminations that have attracted editors and translators to the work again and again."

Read the full article here.